On June 20 this year, Lisa Carrington farewelled her parents at Auckland Airport, before heading to the Olympics via a three-week training camp in Australia.
More than 100 days (and three gold medals) later, Carrington is still waiting to catch up with her mother Glynis and father Pat again and share in the joy and memories of her Tokyo achievements.
After her unforgettable deeds on the Sea Forest waterway, Carrington returned to New Zealand in the second week of August. She came out of MIQ on August 24, when Auckland was already in level 4 lockdown.
"I guess you just deal with the situation you have at hand," says Carrington. "I probably won't realise what I've missed until I get it back."
Carrington is philosophical – "there's always FaceTime" – but admits it has been difficult at times.
"You just get used to your reality," says Carrington. "But I guess not seeing them … since the Olympics and all that and not being able to truly express the pride and everything in person. It's not ideal. Especially when you are in the same country."
Our greatest Olympian wants all Kiwis to be able to regularly connect with family, friends and whānau, one of the reasons she is backing the Herald's 90% project.
"The effects of people not being able to live a life that they would like to live is having a huge impact on people's general health and mental health," says Carrington.
"It can be really inhibiting. So it would be great if we can get to a state where we can continue to do the things we love, especially with how important it is to be around people and with people. So, yeah, I think I'd like us to be able to get back to just being close again."
Carrington had her Covid vaccinations in May, with no side effects, aside from a sore arm.
"It was almost like getting a flu shot or something like that," she recalls. "And the nurses were super nice, so it was pretty seamless."
It's always a personal choice, but the kayaker says she had several compelling reasons to get the jab.
"Firstly, because of the consequences of catching Covid, with the Olympics. It would mean that I couldn't compete. And then, also my teammates; I wouldn't want to be passing it on to them, because of that risk for them.
"While we were in Tokyo, there were about 4000 cases a day, so the risk was high. And you're not guaranteed of not catching it as well, so we had to make sure we were on top of all the basic stuff, hygiene and everything."
Like every athlete, Carrington was tested daily at the Games, which was reassuring when she faced her journey home.
"For me, that was such a big thing," says Carrington. "I wanted to look after my family … and New Zealanders; I wouldn't want to bring Covid back home. So I guess it's just looking after other people as well as myself.
"There's that selfish point of view around not actually being able to compete at the Olympics, if you had Covid, and then also just looking after New Zealand, and then that it allowed me to travel."
Carrington is also aware of the wider picture, 18 months on from the beginning of the pandemic.
"For me [vaccination] is about lowering the risk of people getting sick, especially the most vulnerable," says Carrington. "And people dying from this or getting severely affected by it. It's so important to be able to protect and look after whānau and friends."
Carrington, whose father has Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki and Ngati Porou lineage, is also aware of the impact on Māori.
"It's really important from a health perspective," says Carrington. "I don't know what the Māori stats are for vaccinations, but that's a super-important statistic for me. You want to make sure that health is preserved."
Carrington has lived in a bubble existence for more than three months. There was a snap lockdown on the Gold Coast during a training camp there, before the highly restricted routine in Japan.
That made the transfer from MIQ to lockdown far from ideal, but she has tried to find a silver lining.
"During level 4 I managed to get a lot of admin stuff done - things that I wouldn't normally get around to," says the 32-year-old.
That included extended debriefs of the Olympics campaign, as well as "house admin" at her North Shore residence.
"Ripping out walls, paving, outdoor things," says Carrington, who explains she and her fiance Michael Buck are extending their home office, among other things.
While he has been "flat out" in his banking job, it's been an unexpected opportunity for Carrington.
"We are doing paving outside; I dug a massive square of dirt out," says Carrington. "I would have never done that before; never had the energy to do it or complete things over a long period of time."
Carrington has been off the water since Tokyo, and aside from the DIY, has mostly enjoyed a physical break, before she decides whether to commit to another Olympic cycle.
"I've never had to exercise for the sake of it," says Carrington. "There has always been a reason for it. So it's just been about resting and it's not until the last few weeks that I've gone on sporadic runs or cycles.
"But it's nice being able to do those things that make you realise how important they are for your mental health; I do really enjoy training."
Carrington has yet to earmark a special household spot for her precious metal from Tokyo, with the K1 200m, K1 500m and K2 500m gold medals added to her haul from 2016 (K1 200m gold and K 1 500m bronze) and London (K1 200m gold).
"They are just sitting around actually - I haven't put them anywhere or done anything special with them," she says. "I should probably do something about that."
But that might be after the gib board, the nails and the plastering.
"I can't wait till I paint the walls."